Monday, October 17, 2011
The Power of A Post-It
The truth is, I write about what interests me and what I feel like writing about at the moment. (How's that for a crappy answer to "what inspires you?") Other than becoming a financially self-sufficient freelance writer, I can't spell out specific goals that I want from my writing: fame doesn't seem too important, but I do want to succeed at living a thoughtful life doing what I love.
When people ask what I write, I really flounder. I'm not a niche writer (unless you count "Northwoods living" as a niche) and lately the only writing I do is stuff that pays me. The novel I worked so diligently at two winters ago has reached the point where it either needs to be abandoned or completely re-done and frankly, I'm kind of leaning towards abandonment. Don't they say the first two novels you write should never be seen by anyone's eyes other than your own? If so, prepare for greatness on my next effort because that'll be novel #3!
With my fiction (and most certainly my poetry) writing all but forgotten during the summer season, the other day, when a visitor at work asked about my writing, I forced my creative nonfiction writing into this nice little box: Northwoods memoir. Memoir?*ugh*
But as I stood there babbling on in an effort to make my writing life sound mildly interesting, I realized the visitor wasn't the one cringing at my descriptions; I was. The guy seemed genuinely interested in what I do. He'd just bought a book my volunteer of the day had written a couple years back. (She was the one who mentioned that I wrote.) Turns out the visitor was a singer and he'd made it his mission in life to support the arts and artists.
I told him about my commentary. I wished my business cards weren't in a crumpled mess in the bottom of my backpack. He asked how he'd know when my book came out.
My book? The latest novel seemed like a slightly sad, if not valiant effort that might live for eternity on my hard drive. In the last couple years, I feel my writing has shifted towards a much more nonfiction focus, although I can't imagine publishing a nonfiction book. It seemed silly to talk about a book. Not because it seems impossible, but because it still feels like something very far off to me, something that has yet to be realized.
When was my book coming out?! The question baffled me. And maybe more than baffled, it embarrassed me. I'm so very far off from having a book published.
So I laughed. "Oh, I expect it'll be a very big deal," I joked, trying to play it cool and not expose my awkwardness; trying to force the conversation back into that dark, safe little place where we just don't talk about such things.
"Well, give me something to write on," he said. I handed him a pad of orange Post-Its.
"Here," he said. He handed back the Post-It note pad. He'd scrawled his address across it and at the bottom he'd written a note: "1st signing of your book please!"
Validation in the form of a Post-it. In the light of day, that whole book writing thing didn't seem so silly after all.